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New Economic Impact Study Shows SCAD Generates $600M for the State of Georgia

SAVANNAH, GA – The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has announced the results of a new economic development and impact study, detailing the university’s tremendous positive influence on the communities and economies of Savannah, Atlanta, and the state of Georgia. Conducted over the course of six months by Tripp Umbach, a national consulting firm for not-for-profit, arts, and tourism sectors, the report confirms SCAD's transformative contributions to Georgia through education, cultural enrichment, jobs, public safety, and urban renewal during fiscal year 2017.

For nearly 40 years, SCAD has helped change the face and future of Georgia. Through entrepreneurialism and innovation, community-facing events and charitable endeavors, the university's students, faculty, staff and alumni have increased the economic vitality of SCAD's hometown communities. Over the past four years (2012-2017), the university’s total economic impact grew more than 20 percent. With two of its four global campuses located in Georgia, offering more than 100 preeminent degree programs in more than 40 disciplines, SCAD has helped create a diverse and thriving economy for the state.

"We have never seen an institution with a greater transformational impact on its local community than SCAD," says Paul Umbach, founder of Tripp Umbach. "SCAD is the cultural heart of Savannah, and the engine driving Georgia's new economy."

With nearly 40,000 alumni worldwide—22 percent of whom remain in Georgia—SCAD graduates not only increase the state's earning potential and productivity, but also serve as anchors for the neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and cultural institutions of their communities.

"Most visible are the buildings SCAD has transformed, and most important are the lives SCAD has transformed," says SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace. "Just last week, I heard from an alumnus who had planned the surprise of a lifetime for his longtime girlfriend, also a SCAD grad. In the midst of the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, in their 'beloved place of meeting,' he orchestrated an intimate marriage proposal, carried out with the help of many other SCAD alumni who returned for the occasion. Stories like this fill the book of SCAD, where the lives of our students and alumni become so preciously entwined with SCAD and the communities we call home."

SCAD has fostered the revitalization of entire neighborhoods in Savannah, transforming and adaptively repurposing forgotten historic structures into residence halls, classrooms, office buildings, theaters, and museums—such that these award-winning heritage conservation projects of SCAD have contributed to the city's rising real estate values, an average of 5 percent per year compared to the overall U.S. average of 2.8 percent annually. Beyond its architectural and creative influence, the university has helped reduce crime and create safer communities through public safety initiatives such as Community Patrol Officers and notable security investments like ShotSpotter.

Key findings from the study are included below. For more information about SCAD's economic impact in Savannah, Atlanta and Georgia, and the link to the full report, visit

For nearly four decades, SCAD has shaped the economy, culture, built environment and reputation of Georgia. With prestigious accolades and a commanding presence, SCAD fosters more prosperous communities.

  • $603.3 million in annual economic impact
  • 6,689 jobs in diverse industries (real estate, retail, and tourism)
  • $28.1 million in annual state and local government tax revenue

SCAD made its first home in Savannah and has worked to elevate the renown of this historic city, pioneering safety and security initiatives, establishing a strong legacy of community service, and annually attracting tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff, families and visitors.

  • $438.6 million in annual economic impact
  • 5,360 jobs in diverse industries (real estate, retail, and tourism)
  • $23.6 million in direct, indirect, and induced tax payments

SCAD opened its Atlanta campus in 2005, amplifying the educational and professional opportunities in this major U.S. market, and building the character of the city alongside major companies like Delta, Turner, and Coca-Cola. Today, SCAD stands at the center of Atlanta's growing design, fashion and entertainment industries, with career-focused and cultural features like SCADFILM, SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Art Collection.

  • $122.6 million in annual economic impact
  • 1,130 jobs in diverse industries (real estate, retail, and tourism)
  • $5.1 million in direct, indirect, and induced tax payments

Signature Events
Internationally renowned SCAD events draw tens of thousands of guests from around the world. Contributing to cultural and economic enrichment regionally and statewide, SCAD events further affirm Georgia as a premier destination for cultural and creative engagement.

  • $21.0 million associated with SCAD admission events and campus visits
  • $15.6 million associated with SCAD community event visitors
  • $1.5 million associated with SCAD museum visitors in Atlanta and Savannah
  • $38.1 million associated with spending by visitors to SCAD admissions, cultural, and community events

Approximately 22 percent of SCAD graduates remain in Georgia to work after completing their degree, launching careers with Fortune 500 companies, increasing the state's earning potential and establishing their own businesses.

  • $10.3 million in additional earning power for members of each graduating class
  • $3.5 billion in increased earning potential by SCAD undergraduate alumni who remain in Georgia, over a lifetime of employment
  • $707 million in increased earning potential by SCAD graduate alumni who remain in Georgia, over a lifetime of employment
  • $4.2 billion in increased earning potential over 40 years

SCAD gives generously—in time, resources and donations—to the communities it calls home. In addition to the university's partnerships and initiatives—Adopt-A-School, Union Mission, SCAD Buzz Bus, Stuff the Container—SCAD students, staff and alumni dedicate themselves to supporting the communities in which they live.  

  • $3.6 million in charitable donations across the state of Georgia.
  • 701,100 volunteer hours (equates to $17.1 million) in Georgia communities, including Book Buddies, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and SCAD Kids Café.
  • This total of $20.7 million in charitable donations and volunteer hours supplements SCAD’s $603.3 million in economic impact.

Public Safety
SCAD has pioneered public safety technology and programs in Savannah and Atlanta to provide students, visitors and citizens with a safer, more secure city experience. These initiatives, in addition to foot traffic generated by virtue of SCAD buildings and events, help engender greater community engagement and enjoyment. 

  • Emergency call boxes with a 24-hour security dispatcher, and installation of hundreds of security cameras
  • SCAD was the first university in the U.S. to use ShotSpotter technology, and has implemented outdoor sensor technology in downtown and midtown Savannah
  • Helped local authorities to decrease crime in Savannah by 41% between 1986 and 2014

About the Study
The economic impact of SCAD was estimated using IMPLAN (IMpact Analysis for PLANning), an econometric modeling system developed by applied economists working in academia and government service. The IMPLAN modeling system has been in use since 1979 and is currently used by over 500 private consulting firms, university research centers and government agencies. The IMPLAN modeling system combines the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis' input-output benchmarks with other data to construct quantitative models of trade flow relationships between businesses and between businesses and consumers. The IMPLAN database contains county, state, ZIP code and federal economic statistics that are specialized by region, not estimated from national averages, and can be used to measure the effect on a regional or local economy of a given change or event in the economy's activity.

SCAD's total economic impact represents the dollars that are generated within the Savannah and Atlanta regions and the state of Georgia due to the presence of SCAD. This impact includes SCAD's spending on goods and services with a variety of vendors, the spending of SCAD's faculty, staff, students, and visitors, and the business volume generated by organizations within the regions and the state that benefit from the university’s spending.

In order to reference the most up-to-date economic impact, SCAD initiates third-party studies every four years. This timing accounts for the typical graduate class cycle.

Tripp Umbach provides economic impact analyses to leading health care organizations, universities, and academic medical centers. Since 1990, Tripp Umbach has completed more than 300 economic impact studies.

SCAD: The University for Creative Careers
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor's and master's degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 majors, as well as minors in more than 75 disciplines across its locations in Savannah and Atlanta, GA; in Hong Kong; in Lacoste, France; and online through SCAD eLearning. With nearly than 40,000 alumni worldwide, SCAD demonstrates an exceptional education and unparalleled career preparation. The diverse student body, consisting of nearly 14,000, comes from across the U.S. and more than 100 countries worldwide.

In 2017, the prestigious Red Dot Design Rankings placed SCAD as the top university in the U.S. and in the top two universities in the Americas and Europe. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni placement rate. In a study of Spring 2016 SCAD graduates, 98 percent were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation.